Answer Man: Why is our Rochester City Council meddling in the affairs of Pine Island and the concerns of Elk Run? The tribe bought the land, and it isn’t close to our city limits. What business does the Rochester City Council have in this?
Sincerely, Stay in Your Lane
Lane: “Meddling” implies the city's interest is intrusive or unwarranted interference.
However, as the Post Bulletin’s illustrious local government reporter noted in his trio of articles on the subject, the Rochester City Council was asked to weigh in.
The City Council didn’t seek out the discussion, the discussion landed on its doorstep.
The Prairie Island Indian Community’s Tribal Council wants the city’s support as it continues working toward converting the 1,200 acres of land it purchased at the Elk Run site into tribal land. The designation will extend the tribe’s reservation land to create additional housing for its membership.
While the City Council’s support is desired in the effort to create additional reservation land, it isn’t needed for the application to Congress and the effort could continue without Rochester backing.
However, added support likely wouldn’t hurt.
The Prairie Island Indian Community prides itself on being a good neighbor, and is justified in reaching out.
Tribal President Shelley Buck initially met with Rochester Mayor Kim Norton and City Council President Randy Staver to discuss the request, which was taken to the full council on July 8. During that meeting, council members indicated they would like to support the effort but wanted details.
Primary concerns revolved around development plans and whether they could provide an unfair playing field for Rochester businesses. If that were the case, the council could be seen as justified in withholding support, which likely wouldn’t have much impact on the ultimate outcome.
It’s now a moot point, however. Buck brought the requested details to the City Council for discussion last week, and on Monday, a unanimous council voted to join other local communities offering support.